Sean F. Carey

Director Service Unit North America

Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

21 years at Wärtsilä

Originally from USA


One for all, all for one

To make it to the top, you must be willing to learn from your mistakes and be able to depend on your teammates. See how Sean F. Carey took that to heart as he rose through the ranks at Wärtsilä, helping to seal some of the company’s biggest deals.

If you are a newbie who has just started working at your first job, your biggest hope is that you don’t make a mistake. However, for Sean Carey, his first stint as a young engineer at Wärtsilä in the late 1990s had its share of troubles.

“I remember being a young engineer working many years ago for Wärtsilä and accidentally breaking a piece of customer's equipment. That created all kinds of problems for me and the customer. I thought at one moment that I could be in deep trouble with the company,” he recalls.

But, as it turned out, his tale had a happy outcome.

“Wärtsilä stuck by me. Thank goodness for that. And we found a solution to fix the problem. I apologised profusely to my team and to the customer. I love that spirit about Wärtsilä, myself and my colleagues. We don't always win, but we fight hard, we fail fast, and we deliver,” he says.

That spirit of fellowship and the ability to learn from his mistakes has seen Sean become the Director, Services Unit North America at Wärtsilä, where he oversees the services business for this key market. His visionary approach, along with his experience in international sales and marine engineering has steered the business and helped seal many important deals.

Typically, a key part of Sean’s day is spent discussing ways and means of empowerment with both his team and his peers. After all, he says, this helps in taking business decisions that are logical, quick and that benefits both customers and Wärtsilä.

The deal of a lifetime

One of Sean’s many success stories is the 12-year, Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) agreement signed between Carnival Corporation and Wärtsilä to improve the reliability, efficiency and safety of the vessels in the former’s fleet. A task that required Sean and his team to push themselves to the limits.

“I was one of the team negotiators for the Carnival PBL. This was a long and stressful process that pushed both of our companies’ boundaries and normal ways of behaving,” he explains. ”To be successful in that negotiation we had to envision how Wärtsilä and Carnival would be operating many years into the future with different models we were not yet familiar with, and convince our companies that we could change enough to make the deal work.”

To say that the team put their heart and soul into making the deal happen would be an understatement. Many hours were spent understanding the synergies that could be brought to play by using Wärtsilä’s smart technologies to monitor and continuously optimise Carnival’s vessels. Once that was done, the team prepared exhaustive proposals detailing exactly how the PBL agreement would benefit both parties.

As it turned out, their efforts paid off handsomely.

The resulting EUR 900-million deal was one of the biggest in Wärtsilä’s history and has the two companies creating new and unique ways of working in the marine industry, using the latest technology and best practices to take their collaboration to the next level.

Leader of the pack

“Hearing about our challenges or our customers' challenges is critical, as these are most often where we can find our opportunities to change the way we do things to benefit ourselves or our customers,” emphasises Sean.

But that, he says, is just one part of the challenge.

“Going ahead, we have to get more involved in our communities and go beyond focusing on ourselves and our customers. We need to connect with universities to find young people, attract them into our industry, and get their ideas on how things could work in the future,” he adds.

These, Sean feels, are traits that will help steer Wärtsilä into the future, as the company better understands and fulfills the needs of the societies. The willingness to adapt, he says, is also one of the reasons why Wärtsilä has successfully transformed from being a diesel-engine company into a global engineering company that is setting future trends.

“I love that Wärtsilä is evolving every day and not waiting to be told by our markets what to do. I feel that we are driving our industries,” explains Sean. “When I joined in 1997, there is no way I could have imagined what we have now become and what Wärtsilä has helped me to become. I am sure I won't recognise Wärtsilä in another 5 or 10 years and that is exciting.”

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